Simply put, cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood. It is essential for building healthy cells in your body. Although it is an essential blood component, an excess can lead to heart health problems. So having consistently high cholesterol can put your heart at risk. Additionally, high cholesterol can cause fat to deposit in your blood vessels.
As a result, it restricts blood flow through the arteries. These deposits can rupture at any time and form clots. You may suffer a heart attack or stroke in such a situation.
You can inherit
It also helps remove other harmful forms of cholesterol from the bloodstream. In addition, it absorbs cholesterol and transports it to the liver. The body then eliminates the excess cholesterol. As a result, high levels of HDL cholesterol reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.
Additionally, high LDL cholesterol can build up on the walls of blood vessels as plaque. Plaque narrows the inside of blood vessels. Also, it causes difficulties in blood circulation from the heart to the other organs of the body. This blockage can cause chest pain and heart attack.
The risk of hypercholesterolemia increases with increasing body weight.
In addition, the accumulation of fat in the body leads to an increase in cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Several diseases or medical conditions tend to affect cholesterol levels in the body.
For example, medical conditions such as diabetes, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, obesity, hypothyroidism, and kidney disease can disrupt LDL and HDL cholesterol levels. As a result, they increase the risk of hypercholesterolemia.
Women tend to be at risk for high cholesterol levels after menopause because they lose extra protection against falling estrogen levels.
Several drugs are able to increase LDL cholesterol levels in the body.
For example, thiazides, diuretics, birth control pills, antidepressants, and some HIV medications can cause LDL cholesterol levels to rise temporarily and flush excess fluid from the body.
You can inherit high, low, or combined cholesterol from one or both parents. Therefore, you should consult your doctor if you have a family history of high cholesterol or cardiovascular disease.
Way of life
Certain lifestyle/daily habits can affect cholesterol levels in the body.
For example, lifestyle factors like a stressful environment, less exercise, smoking, and less sleep cause LDL cholesterol to rise and HDL cholesterol to fall to some extent.
Ways to lower cholesterol levels
1. Monounsaturated fats
A diet rich in monounsaturated fats has a positive impact on cholesterol levels. Monounsaturated fats maintain blood cholesterol by lowering LDL cholesterol.
It also results in a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. A diet high in monounsaturated fat replaces saturated fat in the body, resulting in a 6-10% drop in LDL and total cholesterol levels.
According to research, a low-fat diet reduces cholesterol levels in the body. However, it lowers HDL cholesterol and raises triglycerides, which can negatively affect the body.
On the other hand, another research shows that a diet rich in monounsaturated fatty acids has beneficial effects on the body. It lowers LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol levels. Therefore, consult an expert to make dietary changes.
Cholesterol oxidation can react with free radicals in the body, resulting in clogged arteries. Monounsaturated fats have been proven to reduce cholesterol oxidation, preventing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
You can include olive oil, nuts high in unsaturated fats, canola oil, avocados, olives, and nut butter to provide the body with the required amount of monounsaturated fats.
Carbohydrates can raise triglycerides and lower HDL cholesterol. Meanwhile, monounsaturated fats alter lipoprotein, raising HDL cholesterol and lowering triglycerides.
2. Diet rich in omega-3s
A diet rich in omega-3s has a positive impact on cholesterol levels in the body. This is because omega-3s help to grow cells and maintain cell health. It also lowers LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in the body. As a result, it reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and strokes.
A diet rich in omega-3s helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels and increases HDL cholesterol levels. Therefore, it reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks. Moreover, according to a to studyEating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids twice a week can significantly lower triglyceride levels.
According to another to study in 4220 adults, a dietary change of replacing 5% of calories from carbohydrates with polyunsaturated fats showed great results.
This replacement of calories from carbohydrates with polyunsaturated fats resulted in a reduction in blood glucose and insulin levels. It ultimately reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, herring, shellfish and shrimp are excellent sources of omega-3s. As a result, they can help reduce the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol levels.
3. Weight loss
Obesity can lead to high cholesterol levels, leading to an increased risk of coronary heart disease. For example, taking every 10 pounds of excess fat produces about 10 mg of excess cholesterol per day.
Therefore, losing weight can help lower cholesterol levels. Moreover to study showed that people who lost 5-10% of their body weight noticed a dramatic reduction in cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Weight loss can provide a substantial benefit in controlling cholesterol. It may also help raise HDL cholesterol while lowering LDL cholesterol.
Reducing calorie intake, consuming more fiber, and reducing daily saturated fat intake can aid weight loss while maintaining cholesterol levels.
4. Restrict smoking
Smoking cigarettes can lead to harmful coronary heart disease because it disrupts the body’s management of cholesterol. Smokers’ immune cells cannot return cholesterol to the liver using blood from the vessel walls. These cells are called dysfunctional immune cells, which lead to clogged arteries.
Acrolein is a harmful chemical compound found in cigarettes. Upon absorption into the bloodstream through the lungs, it can reduce the transport of HDL cholesterol around the body. This eventually raises LDL cholesterol, leading to a risk of coronary heart disease.
5. Reduce alcohol consumption
Alcohol and cholesterol have no direct link between them. However, excessive alcohol consumption can seriously damage the liver and lower HDL cholesterol levels. It can also increase the risk of blood clotting, stroke, and heart failure.
Certain types of alcohol have different effects on cholesterol levels. For example, beer increases LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Alcohols such as rum and vodka also raise triglyceride levels.
In addition, their excessive calorie content also leads to the risk of heart diseases. Therefore, you should avoid consuming alcohol. However, even if you consume alcohol, you should limit your intake because cholesterol levels rise with increasing alcohol consumption.
6. Plant sterols and stanols
Plant sterols and stanols are cholesterol derived from plants. It is similar to cholesterol which is absorbed through food. Plant sterols and stanols reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol in the body. When plant sterols and stanols are taken in through the diet, they inhibit the absorption of cholesterol in the body.
Some supplements available can provide you with plant sterols and stanols. However, a certain amount of plant sterols and stanols are present in vegetable oils and added in several other oils and butter substitutes.
Some clinics studies show that consuming 1.5-3 grams of plant sterols and stanols has been shown to be helpful in reducing LDL concentration by 7.5-12%. Plus, consuming them with your meals can generously lower cholesterol.
Risks associated with high cholesterol levels
Several coronary heart diseases can result from high cholesterol. High cholesterol levels cause plaque to build up on the artery walls, leading to further narrowing of the arteries. It causes blood flow difficulties that lead to heart attacks and strokes.
High blood pressure
High levels of cholesterol cause high blood pressure. Also, when the arteries narrow, blood flow from the heart to other organs becomes difficult. As a result, the heart tries to pump blood with increased force, which leads to high blood pressure.
Peripheral vascular disease
Peripheral vascular disease is a disease of the blood vessels. It usually affects blood vessels indirectly connected to the heart and brain. In peripheral vascular disease, these blood vessels become clogged with plaque.
In some cases, kidney failure occurs due to high cholesterol levels. High cholesterol levels cause plaque buildup in the blood vessels connected to the kidneys which reduces blood supply, leading to narrowing and scarring.
An aneurysm is also a cause of sudden death. A lump develops in the inner lining of the weakened blood vessels, causing the blood vessels to burst.
A stroke occurs when the arteries become clogged and leave no space for blood to pass to the brain. Restricted blood flow to the part of the brain causes a stroke.
The accumulation of cholesterol in the liver and spleen leads to enlargement of the liver and spleen. This causes stress on the abdominal cavity, resulting in abdominal pain.
Cholesterol is an amphipathic lipid belonging to the steroid lipid family. There are two types of cholesterol: HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) refers to high density cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) refers to low density cholesterol.
A high level of LDL cholesterol in the body leads to a serious risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke. On the other hand, HDL cholesterol helps eliminate the effect of other harmful cholesterols in the body. Several factors affect cholesterol levels in the body. For example, factors like age, diet, genetics, medications, lifestyle, and disease affect cholesterol levels.
The specific risks associated with high cholesterol eventually lead to sudden death. In addition, diseases such as coronary heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, and aneurysms occur in people with high cholesterol levels.
Therefore, you should follow a diet rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Also, you need to quit smoking and drinking alcohol. It can exceptionally help you manage the cholesterol level in the body. You should also follow an active lifestyle.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q. What lowers cholesterol fast?
A. Adapting to specific lifestyle changes such as eating monounsaturated fats and omega-3 rich diets, losing excess weight, and exercising regularly helps lower cholesterol quickly. A diet high in monounsaturated fats can even lower bad cholesterol levels by 6-10%. If you are a smoker with high cholesterol, you should quit smoking to see faster changes in cholesterol levels. Moreover, limiting the consumption of alcohol is also helpful in reducing the cholesterol level in the body.
Q. What are the worst foods for high cholesterol?
A. If you have high cholesterol, you should severely limit the consumption of foods high in saturated fats, trans fats and hydrogenated fats. Some unhealthy food choices for cholesterol are fried snacks, butter, cheese, potato chips, donuts, crackers, and margarine. In general, foods high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats are the worst foods for cholesterol.
Q. Can drinking water lower cholesterol?
A. Drinking water does not directly impact or lower your cholesterol levels. However, drinking plenty of water along with regular exercise boosts your metabolism. A healthy metabolism helps your body fight off extra cholesterol. Additionally, you will also need to make specific dietary changes to see significant results. Drinking water alone will not lower cholesterol.
Q. How can I lower my cholesterol in 7 days?
A. Dietary and lifestyle changes are of paramount importance in lowering cholesterol. However, they do not give results overnight. To see a rapid reduction in cholesterol levels, you must start by eating well. For example, you need to reduce saturated fats in your diet and eliminate trans fats, add more omega3 fatty acids, fruits, whole grains and green leafy vegetables to your diet. These dietary changes will help you dramatically improve your cholesterol levels.
Q. Is coffee bad for cholesterol?
A. Although coffee does not contain cholesterol, excessive consumption can potentially lead to increased blood cholesterol levels. This is because diterpenes, a type of chemical compound in coffee, suppress the breakdown of cholesterol. As a result, it increases total cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. However, moderate coffee consumption does not negatively affect cholesterol levels.
Q. What are the warning signs of high cholesterol?
A. The warning signs of high cholesterol differ from person to person. Not everyone experiences the same symptoms. Common warning signs include prolonged high blood pressure, obesity, chest pain or angina, nausea, extreme fatigue, and shortness of breath. In severe cases, high cholesterol stimulates signs of a stroke or heart attack.
Q. Do bananas lower cholesterol?
A. Bananas have zero cholesterol. The fiber and potassium content of bananas helps lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure. However, eating bananas alone cannot lower your cholesterol levels. You need to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly to effectively lower your cholesterol levels.
Q. Are eggs good for cholesterol?
A. Egg yolks naturally contain cholesterol, but it has a negligible effect on blood cholesterol. Compared to foods high in saturated and trans fats, eating eggs isn’t particularly harmful because they don’t raise your cholesterol. However, you should consume them in moderation.
Q. Is Quaker Oatmeal good for high cholesterol?
A. Yes, Quaker Oatmeal is good for cholesterol. Oats contain beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber that helps lower bad cholesterol levels in the blood. Additionally, the soluble fiber in Quaker oats reduces the absorption of cholesterol into the blood. Eating just one cup of cooked Quaker rolled oats a day can lower cholesterol levels by 5-8%.